BALL is BACK!
It’s such a fantastic feeling to be able to watch mass amounts of football again. I’m convinced that food tastes better, life is happier, and my sentences make more sense during football season. Week 1 of the 2018 NFL campaign is in the books. It produced plenty of compelling storylines and memorable performances.
Aaron Rodgers was simply remarkable while dicing up the Bears on one good leg. Tom Brady showed that he’s still Tom Brady against the Texans. Some of the rookies were impressive as well. Giants running back Saquon Barkley had a special 68-yard touchdown run against the Jaguars. Jets quarterback Sam Darnold rebounded nicely from an interception on his very first NFL pass to complete 16 of 21 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions.
There were major disappointments as well. The Jimmy Garoppolo bandwagon — that was absolutely overflowing — lost some members after the 49ers quarterback threw three interceptions against the Vikings. The Saints gave up 48 points in a home loss to the Ryan Fitzpatrick led Buccaneers. Oh, and the Chargers Super Bowl quest didn’t exactly start off in grand fashion either.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers shared a very interesting thought after being on the wrong end of a 38-28 win by the Chiefs. “I compare an NFL season to the Tour de France,” Rivers said. “It’s all those stages. That’s what the NFL season is to me. There’s 16 stages and you dang sure better win your fair share of ‘em, but it’s a long deal.”
I love this thought by Rivers. It’s a different way of saying that an NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint. The same can be said about sports radio — it’s a marathon. Consistency is what ultimately wins in this business. Not one outstanding performance. Not one great fall book. It’s years of bringing it every day. Winning one stage of the Tour de France and then mailing it in wouldn’t get you anywhere. Neither will the equivalent in sports radio.
There are many people in sports talk that work incredibly hard to reach a certain level of success. Once their goals are realized, that fire doesn’t burn the same way. They get comfortable to a fault and start going through the motions. The drive that paved the way to their success is lacking. It’s a horrible habit that is hard to undo — like falling into a well without a way to climb out.
A poor mindset can lead to poor results. I’ve always disagreed with something Peyton Manning said during a press conference way back in May of 2012. While making an announcement that the Colts had decided to release him, Peyton was asked if he felt like he still had something to prove. Peyton responded by saying, “I don’t want to retire. And no, I don’t feel like I have anything to prove.”
You don’t have anything to prove? Huh? To me, Peyton was saying that he didn’t need to prove he was a great quarterback going forward — that he had already proven so. I’m not in favor of this mindset at all. I believe that no matter what has been accomplished in the past, it doesn’t matter one bit as far as today is concerned. There is constantly an additional challenge and another hurdle to jump over.
The Philadelphia Eagles added a sign to their locker room that said “Super Bowl LII Champions.” It wasn’t welcomed by safety Malcolm Jenkins. “I hate it, personally,” Jenkins said. “I’m well beyond celebrating last year’s accomplishments because they don’t mean anything this year. They don’t get us anything.” The Eagles reconsidered and took the sign down.
The mindset of Jenkins makes perfect sense to me. Focusing on the present instead of the past is a winning approach. The minute you start daydreaming about past achievements, is the minute success starts to become a thing of the past. There are many people that enjoy triumphs so much that they start to lose the focus that made them successful in the first place.
Boxing and music are a few of the many examples where this takes place. There have been many fighters that came from having nothing. They worked tirelessly to make their dreams come true and have a better life. Once they enjoyed success and earned big paydays, they didn’t have the same energy and hunger.
It happens with musicians too. You can literally hear albums when a band or artist was starving for success and poured all of their energy in to the music. It’s easy to hear the opposite when those same entertainers become unmotivated and lazy. Their performances slipped because their passion wasn’t the same.
Former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan once gave a pregame speech leading up to the 2007 NFC Championship Game against the Packers. “All you hear about is the past, the past. The Packers this. The Packers that. Brett Favre this. Brett Favre that. The past is the [bleepin’] past.” He explained his message on NFL Network’s “America’s Game.” Strahan said, “That pregame speech was my favorite because we make our own history now. The past is dead.”
I would hug this thought if I could. Man, that is it!
The past is dead — let that concept wash over you for a minute. It’s a spectacular guide to either chase the success you’ve yet to enjoy, or to handle the success that you’re currently enjoying. If you’re still striving to reach your goals, history doesn’t dictate whether you make it happen or not — you do. If your goals have been met, the key is to never lose that fire no matter what you accomplish.
Starving artists rock the hardest. The trick is to behave as if you’re starving even if you aren’t. Imagine if Saquon Barkley and Sam Darnold got content after enjoying some early success and didn’t work as hard. You’d be critical of them. Have the same standards for yourself. Don’t rest on your achievements. Behave as if you don’t have any.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.